Link-building by way of guest blogging is truly an art form.
And when it’s bad, it’s bad. I know, because I’ve been on the receiving end of lazy pitches, the “Greetings of the day!” type of link-building (if you’ve been in the game long enough, it’s likely you’ve received an email that starts like that), the kind of outreach that is painfully templatized and you know also has been sent to 1,000 of your closest blogger friends.
But the really good kind is the kind that allows you to provide sites with quality content that’s hyper relevant to their audiences, while also increasing awareness for the brand you represent and building authoritative links back to its website. The kind where the main goal is adding value, and creating a mutually beneficial relationship.
We learned some great linking techniques in this GinzaMetrics blog post from last year, and the following are tips you can use to build upon that foundation.
Pay attention to people who follow you on Twitter:
I’ve had countless guest blog posts come to fruition by paying attention to those people who start following me on Twitter, and checking out their profiles to see if they have a website with opportunities for contributed content. It’s a great conversation starter (“Hey, I noticed you started following me on Twitter, so I clicked through to your site…”), and feels more natural than building an arbitrary list and reaching out to random people. Twitter’s the ultimate equalizer, and this is a great example of how it can help build relationships.
The same goes for retweets: I once secured a guest post opportunity after a company shared a post I had written for a completely unrelated site. I asked them if they were also interested in guest authors — they were — and I was published on their blog soon after.
Give bloggers some link love to get their attention
Cold calling people has proven to be a pretty ineffective technique for marketers. It doesn’t feel good to either person on the phone, and cold emailing can have the same effect. So a great way to begin to build rapport with a particular blogger is to link to their content in your own. If he or she just released a relevant e-book or compiled a great top 10 list, work it into an upcoming blog post, as long as it’s natural and makes sense. They’ll appreciate you sending visitors their way, and will be more receptive to a dialogue about a guest post down the road.
Mention them when you promote on social networks
So you’ve gone as far as to link to their content, but if you want to go the extra mile and ensure they don’t overlook you, simply include the person’s Twitter handle when you’re sharing it. For example: “Today’s post features tips on how to write SEO-friendly content with insights from @copyblogger and @chrisbrogan.” If they didn’t already notice the linkback to their post, they’ll certainly receive the @reply and be sure to check it out. Again, it demonstrates that you’re willing to create a mutually beneficial relationship in which you’re simply sharing good content.
Offer to update a post they wrote a year ago
Once you’re at the point of offering up ideas for the actual post, it can be easy to want to reinvent the wheel, and while there is much to be said for offering up a brand new idea, sometimes the best post can be a 2.0 version of something that blogger wrote a year ago. This is especially true for topics that are constantly evolving, such as social media or public relations — a post written in early 2012 might be completely irrelevant in the spring of 2013. An added bonus is that it illustrates you’ve been paying attention to his or her content beyond a week ago.
Offer to write a post for a category they have limited content in
Most blogs list their relevant categories on the left- or right-side navigation, with a number indicating how many posts have been written related to that category. If you see one that only houses one or two, try to brainstorm post ideas related to that topic. You know the blogger is already interested because they took the time to include that as a blog category, and it’s likely he or she would be receptive to beefing up articles there in order to present a more well-rounded blog.
It sounds cliche, but it’s still 100% true: On the Internet, content is king, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a blog owner who’s not interested in well written content that will help him or her expand their digital footprint. But as with any relationship, it takes effort and commitment to make it work and to ensure all those involved glean value out of it. By remaining vigilant, genuine and keeping your eyes peeled for opportunities, you, too, can find success in guest blogging.